Sunday, February 8, 2015

Plan 9 From Outer Space - 1959

Given a bout of insomnia last night from drinking too much, I decided to put on Ed Wood's notorious Plan 9 From Outer Space (the goal here was to put me to sleep).  Ever since I started writing this blog I see movies differently.  I watch for little details, I appreciate the little things more, and I find I remember them better too.  It is interesting, to write all these things directly after I view them, because I find that I can better understand a movie that way.

Anyways, there are endless reviews of this movie online, everyone has seen it or knows of it, it's hardly worth putting down the details of it but here goes:
Aliens come from outer space and raise three bodies from the dead:  recently deceased police chief Tor Johnson, random old guy Bela Lugosi, and tightlacing fetishist Vampira.  The local cops and a couple - Jeff and Paula - track down the aliens, try and elude the three zombies, and uncover why the aliens are there to begin with.

I just cannot find the words to express this movie.  Obviously, it's bad.  It is just so ludicrous.  The big thing here is that Bela Lugosi died pretty much as this thing was in its infant stage.  Apparently, Ed Wood had gotten a few scenes of Lugosi wandering around, alone, in some scary lookin place, and Wood decided he would use it for "something later" and then when this film idea came up he realized that with some editing and a stand-in for a few scenes, it could work and it would look like Lugosi was interacting with other actors.
1) Baffling thing number 1, when big Swede Tor Johnson dies, and is raised from the dead, he looks the same as when he died- in other words, he is wearing the same things.  But when Lugosi and Vampira are raised, they are wearing "scary clothes" cloaks and capes and whatnot.  So were they buried like that then...?
2) It is painfully, painfully obvious that the Lugosi footage was done somewhere else, with a different camera, with different light levels, etc.  So when they are cutting from Lugosi to the body double it does not only not look like him, it looks like something COMPLETELY different, like there are two different people.  It's to the point where if I didn't know they were supposed to be the same I would think they were different.

Other big problems with this movie lie in the production value.  The props, the special effects, they are just so laughably bad.  The alien ship in the sky is clearly a tiny model, the alien ship when it's on the ground is clearly just a weird wall with a door.  The interior of the spaceship is just two tables with random electronic junk piled on top of it.  I love how they have one of those electricity arcs.  It was really just, whatever they could find, they just put it there.  It's hilarious because the thing is distracting and loud, and at one point they just turn it off, as if they're admitting, "Yes, this doesn't do anything"

But is it the worst movie ever, no I definitely say not.  I was trying to think about why, and also why it's a cult classic, and I came up with some simple non-debatable things:
1)  The pacing is great.  This movie is not a talkie, it doesn't have endless scenes of people doing stupid boring things and talking endlessly about bullshit.  It gets right to the monsters and aliens and weird shit and it stays there the entire film.  Its a very quick 80 minutes.
2)  It was filmed in Hollywood, on sound stages, with actors.  Despite those things not meaning much on their own, anyone who has seen bad movies knows what I mean.  It's not some weird piece of shit where they hired dad's car detailing friend Steve to act as the main villain, it's not filmed in complete shit quality in some guys rental van.  The only non actor is the stand in for Lugosi and being that he's minor, has no lines, and given that Lugosi would have been in the whole movie if he had lived, it means something that Wood actually got people to be in this thing.
3)  It has replay value, you can drink or do drugs to it, you can watch it with people, anyone would appreciate it etc.  Those have to be it's ultimate best assets.  You know, I can happily say that I never want to see It's Alive again.  It's dull, boring, badly made, horrible quality, its got no pacing, and the monster is bad and you barely even see it.

In fact....I debate saying this but It's Alive might be my least favorite movie.  Hm.  Interesting.

Anyways, Plan 9 is just silly.  It's got horrible dialogue, including the great line "Your stupid minds!  Stupid!  Stupid!"  And others.  It comes off as a complete joke, but that's good.  I think kids would actually get a lot out of this movie.  I know I would have loved it as a kid.
Are my muffins ready?

So I have to give it a rating and the the rating has to be five stars, obviously.  I'll be lynched if it's not.

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